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Traveling To Scotland

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  • #21
    What time of year are you going?

    Scotland is a fantastic place to visit. If you are comfortable driving on the "other" side of the road and on small roads, I would rent a car (although bear in mind it is likely to be a stick shift) as you can go to all sorts of little places that would be a hassle trying to work out the bus timetable, especially if you go out of the bigger places like Edinburgh and Glasgow. Personally I would give the whole East Coast a miss and stick to the West Coast. Having been born and brought up about 20 miles from Inverness I would second those who say to go up the West Coast, toward Fort William and take the ferry from Mallaig to Skye - it's lovely - true Scotland.

    I will be going back in May to get married in Forres, about 26 miles East of Inverness.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #22
      Thank you everyone!

      Thank you everyone; these are exactly the kinds of tips and the type of information I was hoping for .
      It looks like we will be going in June, after the 10th when my daughter is out of school.
      I was hoping to rent a car - I'm comfortable with a stick shift - but again I defer to you who know better...Will I be able to drive on the other side of the road?? Yikes!!
      You have all been so kind - thank you! I've taken notes on your suggestions, and will get my map out and PLAN.

      Comment


      • #23
        Originally posted by slight View Post
        Thank you everyone; these are exactly the kinds of tips and the type of information I was hoping for .
        It looks like we will be going in June, after the 10th when my daughter is out of school.
        I was hoping to rent a car - I'm comfortable with a stick shift - but again I defer to you who know better...Will I be able to drive on the other side of the road?? Yikes!!
        You have all been so kind - thank you! I've taken notes on your suggestions, and will get my map out and PLAN.
        My daughter did a college semester at St Andrews, so the hubby and I went over for 10 days in Oct a few years ago. It was simply beautiful!

        We stayed along the Highland areas, and the eastern portions due to her being at St Andrews....but we loved touring Fife, stayed in B and B's. Had 3 days in Edinburgh, so we parked the car and walked everywhere from our hotel on the Royal Mile. Did a funny day trip up to Loch Ness with a tour guide and van from "Rabbies"...hilarious guy drove us all day. Since it was Oct the tourist areas were not full of tourists, so it was great for us.

        We did rent a stick shift, and it took a little bit for my husband to get comfortable shifting with his left hand, opposite of here in the US. All in all, I'd love to go back and visit the islands in the west....but we enjoyed the parts we saw very much.

        Only had one day of horribly cold rain. My luggage went to Dublin for 3 days and only caught up with me in Edinburgh...that was terrible!

        Comment


        • #24
          If you don't feel comfortable driving on the "wrong" side of the road, it is possible to do most of Scotland on public transportation, even desirable. There are some beautiful train journeys, from Glasgow - Mallaig being the best. As was mentioned, Mallaig is where you get the ferry to Skye. That train route goes over the Glenfinnan Viaduct, which is where a few movie scenes were filmed - the Harry Potter car scene in Chamber of Secrets being one. It's absolutely as beautiful, if not more, as it looks in the movie. Obviously public transportation in the remote areas of the Highlands is a little more challenging, but again definitely doable with some planning ahead. Buses in Scotland are a lot better and a lot more widely used than they are in the States. There are also various companies offering "Highland tours" that leave from Edinburgh or Glasgow, but I would be a bit careful with these especially if your daughter is younger because you are stuck on a bus for a lot of the time. I did one in mid May, and while I enjoyed it, it was incredibly frustrating being in Glencoe in amazing weather and not having time to walk!

          Just had another thought - you could to a public transport/rental combination by getting the train from Edinburgh - Ft William (change in Glasgow), then I'm sure there's somewhere in Ft William where you can rent a car. The trains around that area get difficult because the stations are so small. We missed our train by 5 minutes while walking over New Years and ended up hitch hiking.
          "Choose to chance the rapids, and dare to dance the tides" - Garth Brooks
          "With your permission, dear, I'll take my fences one at a time" - Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey

          Comment


          • #25
            If you're there in June, you might both really enjoy the Highland Show, which is Scotland's BIG annual agricultural gathering, minutes from Edinburgh Airport. Horses, cows, sheep, tractors - you name it, it's happening there. It's worth going for the people watching, alone. And then there's the ridden Clydesdale classes, all the Mountain & Moorland classes, etc.

            http://www.royalhighlandshow.org/

            The Doune & Dunblane Show in Central Scotland is early in July - same as above, only much smaller, but a gorgeous setting, and handy for Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling, Perth, etc, being right on the A9.

            If you are renting a car, rent it before you go from Arnold Clark - MUCH cheaper than Hertz, Avis, etc, and none of those nasty great hidden extras. Don't expect it to be automatic, though, unless you make a special request!

            http://www.arnoldclarkrental.com/

            The Scottish Tourist Board puts out a brochure listing outdoor activities, and includes all approved trekking centres - you can probably order it online.

            http://www.visitscotland.com/guide/see-and-do/

            Do take lightweight packable waterproofs.

            Comment


            • #26
              Originally posted by Kate66 View Post
              Personally I would give the whole East Coast a miss and stick to the West Coast. Having been born and brought up about 20 miles from Inverness I would second those who say to go up the West Coast, toward Fort William and take the ferry from Mallaig to Skye - it's lovely - true Scotland.

              I will be going back in May to get married in Forres, about 26 miles East of Inverness.
              My wife went to school in Forres for a short time.

              I really disagree about the east coast though. Findhorn bay is gorgeous and there's not much in life beats watching dolphins in the Moray Firth.

              Comment


              • #27
                Originally posted by Event4Life View Post
                If you don't feel comfortable driving on the "wrong" side of the road, it is possible to do most of Scotland on public transportation, even desirable. There are some beautiful train journeys, from Glasgow - Mallaig being the best. As was mentioned, Mallaig is where you get the ferry to Skye. That train route goes over the Glenfinnan Viaduct, which is where a few movie scenes were filmed - the Harry Potter car scene in Chamber of Secrets being one. It's absolutely as beautiful, if not more, as it looks in the movie. Obviously public transportation in the remote areas of the Highlands is a little more challenging, but again definitely doable with some planning ahead. Buses in Scotland are a lot better and a lot more widely used than they are in the States. There are also various companies offering "Highland tours" that leave from Edinburgh or Glasgow, but I would be a bit careful with these especially if your daughter is younger because you are stuck on a bus for a lot of the time. I did one in mid May, and while I enjoyed it, it was incredibly frustrating being in Glencoe in amazing weather and not having time to walk!

                Just had another thought - you could to a public transport/rental combination by getting the train from Edinburgh - Ft William (change in Glasgow), then I'm sure there's somewhere in Ft William where you can rent a car. The trains around that area get difficult because the stations are so small. We missed our train by 5 minutes while walking over New Years and ended up hitch hiking.
                E4L is right - travelling by train is a fantastic way to get a feel for the scenery, and the service nowadays is relatively painless and fairly frequent.

                I *think* you can get a much better deal on rail travel by making your bookings well ahead of time from a N American travel agent - you might want to look into that. We did, and could have got a free cellphone as well, if we hadn't left it to the last minute - very useful to have a British cellphone in the UK that works, vs a N American one that doesn't!

                Comment


                • #28
                  Originally posted by Romany View Post
                  If you're there in June, you might both really enjoy the Highland Show, which is Scotland's BIG annual agricultural gathering, minutes from Edinburgh Airport. Horses, cows, sheep, tractors - you name it, it's happening there. It's worth going for the people watching, alone. And then there's the ridden Clydesdale classes, all the Mountain & Moorland classes, etc.

                  http://www.royalhighlandshow.org/

                  The Doune & Dunblane Show in Central Scotland is early in July - same as above, only much smaller, but a gorgeous setting, and handy for Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling, Perth, etc, being right on the A9.

                  If you are renting a car, rent it before you go from Arnold Clark - MUCH cheaper than Hertz, Avis, etc, and none of those nasty great hidden extras. Don't expect it to be automatic, though, unless you make a special request!

                  http://www.arnoldclarkrental.com/

                  The Scottish Tourist Board puts out a brochure listing outdoor activities, and includes all approved trekking centres - you can probably order it online.

                  http://www.visitscotland.com/guide/see-and-do/

                  Do take lightweight packable waterproofs.
                  Agree with all of this. Would also like to mention Mitchell's in Edinburgh as a great car hire company. Avoid Enterprise at all costs - again PM me for full story. You can get automatics, but you'll have to make a specific request & it will probably cost more - I've hired an automatic from companies in the past (without asking for/wanting one! That was a fun story that will probably end up in the Hillwalking Club's yearbook).

                  Ahhh, I wish I'd been in Edinburgh during the Royal Highland Show, it sounds amazing. It's "Homecoming Scotland" this year and there's a HUGE gathering of the clans in Holyrood Park, but I think that might be later in the summer. A lot of villages have Highland Games which start around June - check tourist brochures/companies etc.

                  You absolutely MUST go to a Ceilidh while you are in Scotland!! They are a blast, and don't worry they have someone announcing the steps so you don't have to know them! I hated dances in middle school, but I love Ceilidhs.
                  "Choose to chance the rapids, and dare to dance the tides" - Garth Brooks
                  "With your permission, dear, I'll take my fences one at a time" - Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #29
                    Pronunciation

                    I am getting so excited for our trip - the Highland Show sounds wonderful, and now I even have car rental ideas - thank you, thank you

                    O.k.- how scary are some of these names with lots of vowels and funny consonants together. How on earth do I pronounce "ceilidh?"

                    I will be looking up some of the websites...

                    I think my daughter would be comfortable with a horse from Tower Farm, what a fun way to sight see!

                    Comment


                    • #30
                      I went over a few years ago for a wedding. It is SO beautiful!

                      I went on a couple of pony treks, which were a lot of fun. We stayed in Oban, and there was a little place to ride right outside of town. There was another place to ride in Argyll, which was not too far away. I agree with whoever mentioned the rotating rain/rainbow effect, and the importance of bringing a raincoat!

                      I drove on the wrong side, and didn't have too much trouble. It's a little weird, but not too difficult. I will admit that out of habit, and more than one time, I got in on the left side of the car, expecting to find a steering wheel.

                      Comment


                      • #31
                        Very fond of Scotland

                        We have been to Scotland a few times and always had a great time! Even in December, when it was cold and rainy/snowy - it was never as cold as it can be here in CT! The people were incredibly friendly and welcoming, easier to understand in Edinburgh than in Glasgow though...and we met some wonderful horsepeople! We never made previous arrangements (except when we got married there), just rented a car or took a train and "went for a ride"! Not once were we disapointed! In the winter it can be rather dark, I remember it being pitch black from 4 pm to 9 am but even when the sky is gray and there are no leaves on the trees it can be so dramatic and romantic. And if you like indian food you are in the right place (at least in the big cities), just be aware that it is a lot more spicy than here in the States.
                        Have fun and report back!
                        Corinna

                        www.lostislandfarm.com

                        Comment


                        • #32
                          Originally posted by slight View Post
                          I am getting so excited for our trip - the Highland Show sounds wonderful, and now I even have car rental ideas - thank you, thank you

                          O.k.- how scary are some of these names with lots of vowels and funny consonants together. How on earth do I pronounce "ceilidh?"

                          I will be looking up some of the websites...

                          I think my daughter would be comfortable with a horse from Tower Farm, what a fun way to sight see!
                          Ceilidh = Kaylee (like the girl's name) - and if you get a chance to go to one - DO! You will never have another experience like it.

                          Comment


                          • #33
                            Originally posted by Thomas_1 View Post
                            My wife went to school in Forres for a short time.

                            I really disagree about the east coast though. Findhorn bay is gorgeous and there's not much in life beats watching dolphins in the Moray Firth.
                            Aaaah, but I guess I don't class Findhorn or Inverness area as East Coast, although maybe I should. I was more thinking about Dundee, Aberdeen and up to the point there, before you turn the corner.

                            I sailed a race once from Findhorn to Norway and at the start of the race all the dolphins were playing with the front of our yachts - magnificent!

                            Of course, Forres is fantastic!! :-)

                            Comment


                            • #34
                              Noooo! I had this whole response typed up for you and lost it. I lived in Edinburgh for a year and love it. Also, it's a very walkable city. My dad's from a town just outside London, so I grew up visiting England (all over) as a kid. My dad couldn't understand why I chose to spend my year in Edinburgh instead of somewhere, anywhere in England! I wouldn't have done it any differently! It was the time of my life.

                              Ceilidh is "kay-lee". Attend one of if you can. It is SO much fun! Leave your pride at the door

                              Some of these are touristy, but fun nonetheless:

                              -Go to a ceilidh
                              -Climb to the top of the crags/Arthur's Seat, preferably at sunrise or sunset. It's stunning. I put this off until my last couple weeks in Edinburgh -- went out clubbing with friends, then climbed Arthur's Seat to watch the sun rise. Very moving
                              -Head up the Royal Mile, stop at St. Giles Cathedral, tour Edinburgh Castle
                              -Get a pint at this little pub on the lefthand side of the Royal Mile (if you're leaving the castle). Everything you expect - dark wood, stained glass, centuries old... If you want pubs not frequented by tourists, let me know, I can give you TONS!!!!
                              -You have to go to the Frankenstein pub! Food and drink are average, but the decor is really interesting and there are creepy surprises for the patrons that you won't expect!! It's like being in the middle of some Frankenstein movie.
                              -Wander through Princes Street Gardens if it's spring through fall
                              -Go to the Writer's Museum, I seem to remember it was free, just off the Royal Mile, interesting and informative about the history and culture that produced some of Scotland's best known literature
                              -St. Mary's Close is touristy, but still really interesting -- it's basically all the streets underneath Edinburgh that were built on top of
                              -I took a number of ghost tours, and while touristy, they were fun, and quite a bit of it was historically accurate.

                              Can't think of anything else at the moment... there is a ton of stuff to do off the beaten track. I really think you need at least a few days in Edinburgh. You can hit all the spots quickly, but if you take your time instead, and wander down all the streets, whatever catches your fancy, that's where you really discover what makes this city so vibrant, historical, etc. Few people realize how much Edinburgh has impacted the course of Western history and ideology! The Enlightenment really started in Scotland. It has an incredibly history of innovation in medicine, philosophy, etc.

                              Glasgow, St. Andrews, and Stirling are all interesting in different ways, but Edinburgh is my fave
                              Gentleman J - "Junior" - My been-there, done-that jumper

                              Send Your Love - "Serena" - Aug 10th 2009, Rest in Peace

                              Comment


                              • #35
                                Originally posted by lostislandfarm View Post
                                easier to understand in Edinburgh than in Glasgow though...
                                Head up to the Highlands area for some fun times with understanding the locals Nothing like a Highland wild boar burger

                                One of the best things I did on my first trip over (one week in December) was when I was on my flight, I heard someone from Scotland speaking near me, and I asked them, "what are some things NOT to be missed in Scotland...anywhere...that I can do in one week and is NOT touristy." You might try that. That's how we found out about the William Wallace Monument in Stirling.

                                One thing I can say about Edinburgh is that, at least in the downtown area (between the Castle - Old and New Edinburgh), my friend and I always felt safe walking around the streets no matter what time of night. From new Edinburgh, behind the castle near the picts memorials all the way to Grassmarket and Holyrood Palace. It was wonderful.

                                As veebug says, you can't miss the Royal Mile! As far as eating...try LOCAL...opt for local markets, etc. Keep an eye out for small storefronts that reveal a market inside (a mistake we made first time over!). We didn't realize there was a market around the corner from where we were staying off Princes Street.
                                If wishes were horses then beggars would ride...
                                DLA: Draft Lovers Anonymous
                                Originally posted by talkofthetown
                                As in, the majikal butterfly-fahting gypsy vanners.

                                Comment


                                • #36
                                  Definitely second Frankenstein's, but maybe go there for a drink and snack because the meals are overpriced and not that good. You will be able to take your daughter in there for this because it is a restaurant and not just a bar. There are some pubs, but not many nowadays, where you won't be able to take her if she's under 16. The Elephant House is on the same street as Frankenstein's. It's a cafe that sells sandwiches etc, and where JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter. It's really cool on the inside and yummy. Has an internet cafe at the front. Another place to try (if it's open - might not be, depending on when in June you go) is Teviot, which is the Student's Union. You can get in for lunch without a student card. The Library Bar (only opened last year for those of you who haven't been at the Uni in awhile), is AWESOME. Really good prices & good food - I think you'll be surprised, it's far better than most places I've eaten at in American Universities. It's called the Library Bar because it used to be the Library for the med school, so it looks really cool on the inside. Teviot was built in 1800 something and is the oldest purpose built Student Union in the world. Go off the beaten track a bit and you'll find some great restaurants that will be far more affordable than places right on the Royal Mile. If you want more suggestions let us know and I'm sure you'll get more than you'll need!!
                                  "Choose to chance the rapids, and dare to dance the tides" - Garth Brooks
                                  "With your permission, dear, I'll take my fences one at a time" - Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey

                                  Comment


                                  • #37
                                    Blair Castle

                                    I know the people who have this place - it is lovely and so are they. www.blairestate.com
                                    I shot with them in Scotland - it is on the west coast. They are super nice people.

                                    Comment


                                    • #38
                                      Don't forget the Prestwick/Ayreshire area on the Firth of Clyde.

                                      Home of Robert Burns and an absolutely gorgeous little city relatively untouched by big city issues.

                                      If anybody with you enjoys golf, it is a mecca worth the pilgrimage tho I cannot recall the name of the club and course-not into it.

                                      Bring a coat though. Bit brisk most of the time.
                                      When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                                      The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                                      Comment


                                      • #39
                                        Originally posted by veebug22 View Post
                                        Noooo! I had this whole response typed up for you and lost it. I lived in Edinburgh for a year and love it. Also, it's a very walkable city. My dad's from a town just outside London, so I grew up visiting England (all over) as a kid. My dad couldn't understand why I chose to spend my year in Edinburgh instead of somewhere, anywhere in England! I wouldn't have done it any differently! It was the time of my life.

                                        Ceilidh is "kay-lee". Attend one of if you can. It is SO much fun! Leave your pride at the door

                                        Some of these are touristy, but fun nonetheless:

                                        -Go to a ceilidh
                                        -Climb to the top of the crags/Arthur's Seat, preferably at sunrise or sunset. It's stunning. I put this off until my last couple weeks in Edinburgh -- went out clubbing with friends, then climbed Arthur's Seat to watch the sun rise. Very moving
                                        -Head up the Royal Mile, stop at St. Giles Cathedral, tour Edinburgh Castle
                                        -Get a pint at this little pub on the lefthand side of the Royal Mile (if you're leaving the castle). Everything you expect - dark wood, stained glass, centuries old... If you want pubs not frequented by tourists, let me know, I can give you TONS!!!!
                                        -You have to go to the Frankenstein pub! Food and drink are average, but the decor is really interesting and there are creepy surprises for the patrons that you won't expect!! It's like being in the middle of some Frankenstein movie.
                                        -Wander through Princes Street Gardens if it's spring through fall
                                        -Go to the Writer's Museum, I seem to remember it was free, just off the Royal Mile, interesting and informative about the history and culture that produced some of Scotland's best known literature
                                        -St. Mary's Close is touristy, but still really interesting -- it's basically all the streets underneath Edinburgh that were built on top of
                                        -I took a number of ghost tours, and while touristy, they were fun, and quite a bit of it was historically accurate.

                                        Can't think of anything else at the moment... there is a ton of stuff to do off the beaten track. I really think you need at least a few days in Edinburgh. You can hit all the spots quickly, but if you take your time instead, and wander down all the streets, whatever catches your fancy, that's where you really discover what makes this city so vibrant, historical, etc. Few people realize how much Edinburgh has impacted the course of Western history and ideology! The Enlightenment really started in Scotland. It has an incredibly history of innovation in medicine, philosophy, etc.

                                        Glasgow, St. Andrews, and Stirling are all interesting in different ways, but Edinburgh is my fave
                                        Just wanted to add that you can also see Greyfriar's Bobby's grave...the little Skye terrier who laid on his dead owners grave for 14 years until his death. There is a monument to him within walking distance of the Royal Mile.

                                        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greyfriars_Bobby

                                        Comment


                                        • #40
                                          Originally posted by Romany View Post
                                          If you're there in June, you might both really enjoy the Highland Show, which is Scotland's BIG annual agricultural gathering, minutes from Edinburgh Airport. Horses, cows, sheep, tractors - you name it, it's happening there. It's worth going for the people watching, alone. And then there's the ridden Clydesdale classes, all the Mountain & Moorland classes, etc.

                                          http://www.royalhighlandshow.org/

                                          The Doune & Dunblane Show in Central Scotland is early in July - same as above, only much smaller, but a gorgeous setting, and handy for Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling, Perth, etc, being right on the A9.

                                          If you are renting a car, rent it before you go from Arnold Clark - MUCH cheaper than Hertz, Avis, etc, and none of those nasty great hidden extras. Don't expect it to be automatic, though, unless you make a special request!

                                          http://www.arnoldclarkrental.com/

                                          The Scottish Tourist Board puts out a brochure listing outdoor activities, and includes all approved trekking centres - you can probably order it online.

                                          http://www.visitscotland.com/guide/see-and-do/

                                          Do take lightweight packable waterproofs.
                                          Ditto all of this, but especially the Royal Highland Show. It is just fantastic. Great showjumping but also showing and heavy horse classes you might not have seen before.

                                          Do you know where you plan to travel? I've lived in Scotland for two years and find it a very horsey place in general with plenty going on during the summer. If you happen to be in the area, you can ride the Queen's ponies at Balmoral.

                                          Comment

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